Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last Last Minute Gift Idea: Wurkin Stiffs Collar Stays and Cuff Links

All guys have had an experience or two where their shirt collars have fallen flat. Most guys will use and sometimes even wash the flimsy collar stays that come with the dress shirts. Guys, those are meant to be taken out when you're not wearing your shirt! Other guys will buy stiffer plastic collar stays from their nearest tailor or favorite menswear store. Once they've lost their ability to prop up your collar, they end up in the trash bin. Another piece of plastic in your landfill that's non recyclable! 

Wurkin Stiffs was started by Jonathan Boos as a result of a wardrobe mulfunction while preparing for a dinner engagement. "I was getting dressed to take my wife out for dinner and have drinks with our friends in downtown Sarasota. My wife had bought me an expensive shirt the prior week, in which I was putting on to wear for that evening. Looking in the mirror, I could not believe the shirt's collar. It would flare out and not stay in any position I would put it in." A lot of guys go through this not only before a dinner date but every time we put on a dress shirt. 

Hello Croc Fashion Power Stays, $70

As a result, Jonathan came up with the first magnetic collar stay, Wurkin Stiffs. Priced from $35-70, the collar stays come in a variety of pattern and styles. The Power Stays are put inside your shirt's collar stay pockets with the super strong magnets placed on the inside of the shirt. The collar then stays in place, in whatever position you want. The collar stays are 2.5" long, pretty standard length for most shirts. 

Hello Croc Fashion Cufflinks $115

Outside of the collar stays, Wurkin Stiffs also has an amazing collection of fun cuff links. Just a note of on cuff links, make sure they don't take over your outfit. Keep it chic, cool, and collected.

Click here to purchase your Wurkin Stiffs Power Stays and Cuff Links.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Minute Gift Ideas: The Kindle from Amazon

One of the most celebrated electronic devices of 2009, the Kindle from Amazon is a must have for the guy who is an avid reader. Why carry a bunch of books from the library, when the Kindle can hold up to 1,500 titles in its magazine-thick casing. Its got 3G wireless so you can order books, read blogs, and access wikipedia from practically anywhere.

You can read for a week without having to recharge the battery; much better than the old model that only lasted for 4 days. And if you get tired from "flipping the pages", you can have Kindle read you the book in clear audio. Available on Amazon for $259.

Last Minute Gift Ideas - Portella IPhone/ITouch Case

Sometimes shopping last minute has its price. At $150, this full grain leather IPhone/ITouch case makes a great present for your techie yet sophisticated boyfriend. The minimilast aspects of this leather case makes you wonder why it costs so much. 

The Portella IPhone/ITouch Case 

Well, its soft leather case, stylish gold zipper and minimalist functionaility makes it more than its worth. It also not only holds your gadget in place, but has enough room for business cards, credit/debit cards, and your executive class frequent flyer card. If you're looking for something to stylize his I-device, this will fit the bill. Available online at Want Les Essentials de la Vie.

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Argyle Sweaters

The argyle pattern has made a successful comeback over the years. You can find in socks, shirts, and of course sweaters. Joe Fresh is a high style, low price Canadian brand that has produced some good sweaters for guys this season. Argyle sweater make can easily be dressed down or up. The v-neck styles make great dressy sweaters while the round neck ones are good for a casual dinner date. 

Priced at $39, Joe Fresh's assortment of wool argyle sweaters make a great last minute present for the men in your life. Go to Joe Fresh for more gift ideas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: Let John Varvatos turn you into a ROCKSTAR this holiday with Rock Volume 1

John Varvatos continues to be one of my fashion and fragrance icons. His clothing and fragrance line to me epitomizes what COOL looks and smells like. In the summer, the Artisan fragrance was a hit among ISTYLEU readers. This Christmas, John Varvatos would like you to try  Rock Volume 1. Yes, there's word of a volume 2 just like one of those "Best Of " CD sets. 

Given the rock and roll inspiration behind the product, the box resembles that of a speaker. And as you open the box, its hard not to notice the heavy metal casing and bolt cap packaging of bottle. The flask shape and the JV icons on the casing tells the whole story around John Varvatos and his love for Rock and Roll music. My interpretation of the icons "John Varvatos.King of Rock and Roll. Established in 2000".

The rock and roll vibe carries on to the actual scent of this product. With notes of coffee and rose absolute, this Fall scent is sensual, masculine, and explosive. Outside of the great scent, what also struck me about the fragrance is its longevity. Where some colognes easily evaporate when sprayed on your skin, this one lasted for at least 24 hours. On my clothes, they've lasted for longer making it a great all-day, all night fragrance.

Rock Volume 1 is a limited edition and I've been told that Volume 2 will be released next year and Volume 3 a year after that. So get your Rock & Rollo mojo going and visit your nearest John Varvatos store or department store where John Varvatos fragrances are sold. Price $82.00

For more information on John Varvatos Fragrances click HERE.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: BE what others ARE NOT with Hardihood

What makes a great T-shirt? Wearability. Unique design. Fit. Sometimes when guys buy tees the first thing we look at is the brand. Brands come and go, but quality doesn't. The best t-shirts I find are made of 100% cotton, have a modern fit, and a design that you don't see on every man at the mall or on the street. Hardihood shirts and hoodies fall in that category. With products made in Canada, the brand reflects the "courage to be different". And it shows in the diversity of designs of their tshirts and hoodies.  

One of my favorites from their Fall-Winter collection is the Striking Tee that retails for $80. I refuse to wear t-shirts that have big, obnoxious, overpowering logos in the front. But for some reason, this t-shirt was different. The graffiti like print, the 3 letter breakdown of the name (makes you read), and the strong style statement on the back makes this a unique piece. Plus its made of 100% cotton and has a great feel to the skin.

Another piece you should check out is the Motto Pullover. The best hoodies are the ones that have weight and substance, not just in design but also in the fabric used. This thick cotton-poly blend hoodie has a thermal lined hood which keeps the your head warm during those cold winter days and nights. The gel screen print design on the back of Hardihood's unique slogan also gives this simple hoodie an elegant touch.

Some celebrities spotted wearing Hardihood include Taylor Lautner from Twilight and New Moon fame, DJ Roger Sanchez and Minnesota Twins hitter Justin Morneau.

"I AM WHAT YOU ARE NOT" is a life motto every person should live by. One must strive to be different and globally we have to celebrate those differences. Start by picking up one of these pieces at the following stores listed here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: Keep it SIMPLE

The last time I did a review on shoes from Simple, I commented that "it felt like I was walking on air". This holiday they've come out with a new line eco-friendly shoes that doesn't disappoint one's sensitive feet. One of my favorites from that line is the CARwalk, which is made from eco-certified suede. You're probably what that means. To keep it simple, the suede is from an eco-certified tannery (BLC/ISO 14001). A tannery is a place where hide is treated to make it into leather. Aside from the suede, the shoe's flannel lining and shoe laces are made from organic cotton from non-genetically modified seeds and is grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides. 

So what makes this shoe so soft to walk on? The "pedbed" aka the cushiony and supportive padding at the bottom of the shoe, is made of super soft, squishy polyurethane and recycled car tire. The sole is also made of recycled rubber tires offering great grip for those slippery slides in the rain. 

In black and in classic taupe, the skate style casual looks of the CARwalk make it a great addition to any man's shoe collection. Spray it with some eco-friendly all protector water repellent and you're ready to battle the elements of the season.

Price $135. Available where Simple is sold or online  

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: The Gift of Time

There are two things that tell a woman where a man is in his life - the shoes he wears on his feet and the watch on his wrist. You don't have to be wearing a $3,000 dollar watch to impress the ladies, but you need a watch that defines your personal style and exudes confidence. Marc Ecko's The Maestro is one such timepiece. More of a casual sport watch, this dual time zone unit has the weight of a more expensive timekeeper. It features a polished stainless steel case, a piano black top ring, a scratch resistant mineral crystal face and a black polyurethane strap. The watch also has a depth rating of 50 meters (150 feet).


I had the opportunity to test this versatile watch over the last few weeks. The piano black top ring makes the watch easy to pair with a suit jacket and dress trousers. The casual elements of this watch like the rubber strap works well with a pair jeans and a t-shirt. My only wish was that  the Maestro had a date function. However, this makes a great present for the guy who's looking for low price-high style watch, who travels quite a bit between two time zones or simply wants to know what time it is in another part of the world. 

Price is  $165. Available where Marc Ecko watches are sold. Visit Marc Ecko online for more information.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009

This is going to be the first Holiday Gift Guide for ISTYLEU and frankly I'm looking forward to it. Every week leading up to Christmas, various products will be featured here to give your woman (or friends and family) ideas of what to give you for Christmas. So make sure to have them visit ISTYLEU regularly. There will be fragrances and there will be gadgets. There will be male style essentials and there will also be accessories. There will also be some fairly high priced items for those that have some extra cash to spare. And as we get close to the big day, there will also be some last minute gift ideas for the shoppers who procrastinate.

Right now, I can tell you that there will be a new fragrance that I think every guy should have this season. There will also be a pair of kicks that's made from recycled materials. And lots more. So subscribe to the RSS feed, follow me on Twitter @istyleu, and spread the word to your friends and families. You do want to get a present you like, right?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 5 - GotStyle Menswear honors Canadiana

As a menswear style blogger, I've been waiting for GotStyle's show since I registered for LG Fashion Week a month ago. Canada, in general, is not known for menswear. So its good to see a show who's goal it is to expose the great designers in this category. Melissa Austria, owner of GotStyle menswear store on King Street West in Toronto gathered the best of the best in menswear Friday night. Grouped in four Canadian seasons (all showing Spring-Summer collections), the show featured pieces from Christopher Bates, Costa Pavlou, Bustle, Skmpeez, Red Canoe, Juelz Rok, Gregory Allen, Juzd, 1921 jeans, 18 waits, Maison St. Pierre, Kwasi, Lipson, Trepaul and Empire Clothing. Outside of the generic models, the show was infused by local male celebrities like Nico Archambault from So You Think You Can Dance, Michael Landsberg from Off the Record, David Clemmer and Bruce Turner from Style by Jury and Ben Mulroney, host of E-Talk and Canadian Idol.

I spoke to Melissa during my visit to their store a few days prior to the show. She gave me a personal tour after the interview and we discussed the growth of menswear in Canada. "Canadian menswear is growing. The problem is that they're known more outside of Canada than it is here." said Austria. "I did this show primarily because I made it my mission to promote the great menswear design talent we have. And as a store we carry all of these emerging brands and we're proud of that.", she added.

Out of all the labels on the runway, one that really stood out for me was Red Canoe. A label born in Northern Ontario, the line takes its inspiration from the Canadian outdoors and the people who live and enjoy them; fishermen, aviators, hunters, and tourists. Its that adventurous spirit that lives in the defined outdoor clothing that easily been worn in cottage country and the city. Patched sweaters, polos and full size leather back packs are things to definitely look forward to from this label. Also, the use of logos from vintage Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) insignia and Cesna plane, was unique and well placed across the tees and jackets. Can't wait till they open their store in Whistler, BC in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Nico Archambault from So You Think You Can Dance busts a move on the runway

Christopher Bates and Costa Pavlou (below) and their SS 2010 pieces (above)

Red Canoe and Founder Dax Wilkinson

Ben Mulroney check his pulse on the runway

Queen of Kings Gotstyle Menswear Owner Melissa Austria escorted by Nico Archambault from So You Think You Can Dance, Michael Landsberg from Off the Record

All Photos by Paul Flynn

I asked Melissa what she would advice the male readers of ISTYLEU. And she mentioned the following 3 points which I think all of you should take to heart.

1) Its all about the FIT. Wearing pants, shirts, jackets, sweaters a size bigger looks tacky. Look clean and sophisticated at all times.

2) Have a perfectly tailored black suit. It will never go out of style.

3) Invest in more than one coat. Coats make a great add on to a suit or a casual ensemble. Trench, Car and Overcoats are just some of your options.

Day 4 at LG Fashion Week: Dominated by Evan Biddell and RUDSAK

We are nearing the end of fashion week and the shows still keep getting better. I was really looking forward to the last two shows of the evening and I wasn't disappointed when the time came.

Evan Biddell, another graduate of the hit show Project Runway Canada, not only showed a great collection but more importantly delivered a great production. Starting off with an animation clip, almost very superhero like, it made wonder if the theme for the collection was that of superheroes. Well, there were some elements that were of the "leap tall buildings" kind. From billowy dresses, capes, hoods, and jumpsuits, Evan has once again outdone himself. There were also steel-like one piece swimsuits that look slick and powerful. Staying true to his design aesthetic of urban elegance with a hint of fantasy and futurism, each piece kept the audience in awe. And he even did a bit of menswear too with the matching jumpsuits. I asked Evan "what's with the jump shorts?" And he coyly answered "The women have been doing it for a long time. Why can't men." Good answer, Evan.

Evan Biddell and his models
All photos by StudioLit

Following Evan Biddell was Evik Asatoorian and his label Rudsak. Rudsak is known for its simplicity, elegance and clean yet distinct lines. And this season, those characteristics were quite obvious. Think your most classic pieces like the trench coat and the belted dress for the women, and the safari coat and the bahama short, add some lamb skin leather, and a dash of chilli red or mushroom colored dye, and you've got a preview to Evik's Spring 2010 line.

The theme revolved around jetsetting in the 60s where a couple would ride into the sunset on a private jet and in some cases maybe a vintage motorcycle. The collection had a bit of both settings. The women wore belted dresses combined with leather coats and bomber jackets. My favorite piece was this chili pepper belted leather dress. Staying on the chili pepper color block, I personally love the red shorts and pants the male models wore. Combined with beige or mushroom colored jackets, it made me want to go on a luxury vacation.

I spoke with Evan after the show what his advice is for people who are scared to wear colored leather pieces, be it a jacket or a pant. He said "We've come a long way with leather and the quality of the material. Having a colored leather jacket is a must in the Spring. There is no in-between seasons in Canada or when wearing a leather piece. For both men and women, having the right fit is also very important. Its time that individuals seize the day, be more courageous, more daring, more personal with fashion. The pieces this season accomplish that."

All photos by Angela Y. Martin, AYM Photography

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 3 at LG Fashion Week: High Style, Not so much High Price

Its the third day of fashion week and everyone is looking forward to the evening shows. Attitude by Sears, Joe Fresh and Pink Tartan were all showing. And for lovers of great style, these three brands have a lot to offer. Attitude by Sears is a brand the major retailer bought from the now defunct Eaton's. According to Cynthia Florek, Trend Manager "With Attitude, Sears now has the opportunity to take on a new market, a new customer." The brand was launched last Fall and now carries a full line of pieces from head to toe.

Photography by Kimberly-Lynn

As the Attitude customer is describe by Florek as one who's "on trend. not trendy", the runway showed a lot of pieces that the modern woman can add to their wardrobe. The blends of neo-nautical themes, black and white color blocking, and occasional pops of coral presented a very well balanced collection for Attitude.

Photography by Kimberly-Lynn

I asked Cynthia what her key pieces for the season were and she said:
  • The Peg Pant
  • The Dress (Soft) Short
  • The Boyfriend Blazer
  • The Jumpsuit
  • The Oversized Tee
Photography by Kimberly-Lynn

As a woman of great style, I needed to ask for some fashion advice. Kept short and sweet, Cynthia's response "Mix it up". And with that I'm sure women all over will be mixing up their wardrobe with pieces from Attitude this Spring.

Following Attitude was Pink Tartan led by Kimberly Newport Mimran, the other half of Canada's fashion couple (the other being Joe Mimran, aka JOE Fresh). This season the line was dominated by 80's themes -- bold shoulders, glitzy sequin vest, and cropped jackets. But its not just like any rehashed garments or styles. Pink Tartan has infused it with enough luxury and glam that will make women want to go get it ASAP.

Photography by Angela Y. Martin

Some strong pieces from the collection
- the mini dress - the trench coat - the sequin dress - the "nautical" wrap dress

The third night of fashion week was capped with JOE Fresh, the high style - low price clothing label started by Joseph Mimran. Known as the JOE behind this value priced label, he has managed to make great style affordable to everyone. It was interesting to see how certain pieces from his wife's label Pink Tartan made it over to his collection except that his was priced for much less. On the men's side, true to his own personal style statement, Joe stuck with slim cut trousers, fitted cardigans and blazers.

I spoke with Joe prior to the show to get a better understanding of the brand. "JOE Fresh is about new product, fresh price. That's what I want people to remember." mentioned Joe. As most people know him more for his success with the Club Monaco label, I asked what lesson he took from that chapter in his life and has applied it to Joe Fresh. And he said "Never settle for anything less than the best".

And the best pieces I thought from this season's showing are:
  • For the women, its the use of the light, airy and yellow fabrics in the pleated skirts, oversized shirt dresses, and the shirt/jacket combinations
  • For the guys, yellow nylon jackets, sand colored slim chinos, and the contrast vee sweaters.

Photos by Angela Y. Martin, AYM Photography

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 1 and 2 at LG Fashion far, so great

LG Fashion Week kicked off with quite a spectacle: Holt Renfrew's media reception and Sunny Fong's (Project Runway Canada 2009 Winner) VAWK fashion show . The Art Gallery of Ontario was packed with media, industry and fans of Sunny's work. In talking to Sunny later that evening, he mentioned to me that he chose to be away from the tents primarily "to be different and try something new". He did that as well with his collection.

Sunny Fong, VAWK
Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani

12 amazing pieces grazed the runway each of them with its own unique personality. What struck me the most was use of cut-outs in the gowns and the deep v-necks adorned by ruffles in the blouses. The suiting pieces I think will soon be a staple in every woman's wardrobe.
"The Group of Seven"
Photography by Angela Y. Martin

Following the VAWK show, the lucky few headed over to Holt Renfrew's Bloor Street location for the annual media welcome party. Alongside Canada's fashion elite, there was also a great mix of industry and entertainment representatives. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of Holt Renfrew own "Group of Seven", as Barbara Atkins, VP of Fashion Direction for Holt Renfrew puts it. In the group included Mikhael Kale, Lida Baday, Smythe, Jeremy Laing, Denis Gagnon, Greta Constantine, and Pink Tartan. Also spotted at the party were Joseph Mimran, head honcho for Joe Fresh who I will be meeting this Thursday, and Entertainment Tonight Canada host, Rick Campanelli.

Another big event that day was the 100 years of fashion presentation presented by L'Oreal Paris. As the fashion of today is determined by the fashion of tomorrow, the show was a glimpse to what influences we'll be seeing in the seasons to come. Corsets, flared trousers, bow ties, bubble skirts, the high waist, are some of the "vintage" styles that were presented at the show.

Photography by Steve Alkok for
More images HERE

Day 2 began with Filipino designer Brian Maristela and his label Lizares at 3pm. As most filipinos are known for their ingenuity, Brian presented a spring summer collection dominated by variations of the "barong tagalog", the country's national formal garment made from pineapple fibers. He also combined this with treated linens and cottons for the shorts, pants and jackets, making luxurious ensembles for the guys next season.
Photography by Steve Alkok for

Attention to detail is a trademark for this young designer. The blazer sleeves when rolled give a pop of color to a classic combination of black and white. The embroidery on all the barong's are impeccable. And lastly the use of leather in the lapels of jackets and pant panels was a sexy touch.
Photography by Steve Alkok for

My sense is that Brian and his LIZARES line will hit mainstream soon. It may take some time for the West to adopt the barong as a staple shirt for the Spring and Summer seasons but if its positioned the way it was today, I only see great thing happening for this brand.

Brian Maristela and Lisa Harun for Lizares
Photography by Steve Alkok for
More images HERE

Travis Taddeo followed Lizares with a "french revolution" of a street wear collection. Having talked to Travis the day before, I knew what to expect. Well, sort of. I didn't quite expect the kind of swimsuits women were wearing practically exposing everything from the waist down. But what I did expect was edgy, fashion forward, colorful mens and womens streetwear, and that I got.

Photography by Steve Alkok for

For the men, the collection revolved around oversized t-shirts, ripped skinny or slim jeans and leather swimsuits. Not sure how leather functions in water, but who cares. Rarely does fashion work with function in the real world. One of my favorite pieces was the oversized shirt that had the ink blot print that resembles the letter "T" or is it?
Photography by Steve Alkok for

For the women, there were some pieces that I thought raised a lot of eyebrows in the audience (I saw them), particularly the high cut swimsuits. High cut swimsuits are suppose to make women's legs look longer and hips slimmer. On a skinny model with barely fat to hold up the suit, I thought just didn't do the swimsuit justice.

Photography by Steve Alkok for

Travis made a great effort to revolutionize the little black dress by combining leather and cotton jersey to make form fitting outfits that I'm sure will be a hit at the clubs and at patio parties during the season.

Monsieur Travis Taddeo
Photography by Steve Alkok for
More images HERE

In one of the women's tees, the print said "Children of the Revolution". Travis Taddeo and his collection are definitely that. More to come on my 1-1 interview with Travis.